A Surprising South African

Glen Carlou Grand Classique

I’ll admit that I know very little about South African wines beyond their renowned (if overlooked) Pinotage and Chenin Blanc offerings, and even then I’m normally at a loss. It seems I’m not the only one though: the people of Ireland have largely turned their backs on the country and its wines, and it’s by far the worst-performing wine producer here with a drop of -27% over the last twelve months in the off-trade. I fear that this may be a vicious cycle in action: the worse a country performs the less likely a retailer will stock or promote it, and thus it’s relegated to the bottom shelf where it’s even less likely to be sold, and so on and so on…

So fair play to O’Brien’s for pushing the Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2005 during their Fine Wine Sale last November (I’m eagerly anticipating the next!), but even then it took a price drop and a favourable review by the estimable Tomás Clancy to get me to buy it, with the added sweetener being that it had some bottle age. So I bought a couple of bottles and felt adventurous for buying wine from a country that has been producing the stuff since 1659. Strange that.

So what was it like? Absolutely delicious in fact. It reminded me of a Coonawarra Cab: full, rich, eucalypt and blackberry goodness, very strong on the fruit and really quite deep, so old-school dusty Bordeaux fans may want to give this a miss. I’m guessing that it may have peaked already though, so though it won’t dis-improve any time soon I just won’t hang on too long to drink the other bottle.

Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2005
€18.99 from O’Brien’s
Wine of Origin – Paarl
41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc


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